Fast Soup Base for Ramen
My culinary shame is a love of Top Ramen, but I never make it anymore because I just can't abide what's in that packet of powder, and I hate how dehydrated the soup makes me feel. Attempts to make my own version (an instant base, not a regular stock) have always failed. Any suggestions?
You could try a mixture of konbu dashi with whatever is the best quality chicken broth you can buy. It won't taste a bit different from the packet, and it definitely won't be quite the same as the best ramen-ya broths, but it can taste pretty decent, and you can make dashi reasonably quick.
For dashi, heat konbu (kelp) slowly starting in cold water (~ 1 ounce per quart). Remove the konbu just before the water gets to a boil.
Mix with about 2 parts chicken broth, to taste. Season with soy sauce and a bit of mirin to taste.
With this as a base, you have a few other quick options - you can add a handful of bonito flakes to the dashi after removing the konbu, bring back to a boil, and strain, for a sort of fishy funk to the broth. Or you can add miso (cut back on soy sauce). Or you can mix in some mushroom stock.
Again - this is not the traditional way to make ramen broth. But it should suffice for a delicious homemade lunch requiring far less effort.
Not sure if this is what you're going for, but when I swore off instant ramen, I came up with a couple almost-instant versions of noodle soups, using boxed veggie, beef, or chicken stocks. Into the chicken stock goes ginger & garlic (microplaned on hand, or pre-grated and frozen), chopped green onions (prechopped, frozen), and a sesame sauce I make in advance and keep in the fridge. Which is just tahini, soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin, toasted sesame oil, and sugar. When the veggies are cooked, I throw in an egg or two until just barely done. Eat with sriracha.
For an almost-instant pho, I use beef (but other stocks work too), and simmer with fish sauce, brown sugar, ground cinnamon & coriander, grated ginger & garlic, thin sliced white onions, and whatever leftover cooked beef I have around. Or an egg. Top with cilantro, mint, basil, bean sprouts, if I've got em.
Typically, I use those bricks of frozen udon, just because they're fast and can cook in the boiling soup. If I have nothing else, I'll use dried any kind of noodles. These make for hot, satisfying, flavorful meals when I'm too drained to spend more than 5-10 minutes getting dinner on the table.